Mind Games: Train Your Mind for Optimal Lawyering

Two recent additions to the Ross-Blakley Law Library collection have attorneys looking within, honing skills and reversing destructive thinking. Understanding and Overcoming Cognitive Biases for Lawyers and Law Students and Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers are driven by practicality: they hope to instill lessons that can make lawyers better at their job by identifying and neutralizing fallacies and other mental lapses and by developing a solid strategy at the bargaining table.

Understanding and Overcoming Cognitive Biases for Lawyers and Law Students, E. Scott Fruehwald, 2018

The heart of this book on cognitive biases is active learning—it contains numerous exercises to ensure more retention of its key lessons so they are not lost in the passive learning of mere reading. Chapter 1 lists common cognitive biases to help lawyers and students overcome specific flaws in thinking. It identifies traps such as the overconfidence effect (“Excessive confidence in one’s own answers to questions.”) and the curse of knowledge (“When better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.”) as particularly dangerous for attorneys. It introduces the difference between intuition and reasoning, and details the role of emotion in cognitive biases before introducing tools such as reflection to combat biased thinking. After this intro, chapters 2 and 3 delve into optimistic and negativity biases, respectively, with thought exercises. The next sections concern biases with how we interact with other people, which for lawyers includes countless clients, witnesses, judges, and other attorneys, and economic biases. Chapter 6 introduces the practical reasoning skills that can push back against (or be harmed by) cognitive biases. Later chapters concern ethics and other specific legal topics. Along the way, lawyers will understand not only how to push back against their own cognitive biases, but to strategically harness the biases of others for career success. The book provides detailed explanations for each of the thought exercises it presents to help lawyers internalize its lessons and apply them in the real world.

Negotiation Essentials for Lawyers, Andrea Kupfer Schneider & Chris Honeyman eds., 2019

The concept behind this anthology was to distill the most important lessons about negotiation that lawyers will actually use and to help lawyers apply the lessons efficiently. Each chapter includes an explanation of why it is relevant to attorneys and why it might change their thinking. It is also kept to a reasonable length despite trying to absorb the vast body of knowledge on negotiation tactics into a single volume. Each author provides specific steps for attorneys to make in their future negotiations. They also address red flags with sections that explicitly lay out situations in which the chapter’s particular negotiation advice won’t apply. It provides negotiation advice in a number of different contexts, including different practice areas and different cultures. The chapters are arranged into thematic sections, with an introduction, a unit about the negotiator as a person, and how personal differences including race and gender can play out in negotiations. Section III concerns setting and achieving appropriate goals for your negotiation. Section IV primarily concerns listening and communicating well. Section V involves working with negotiation counterparts. Sections VI and VII concern more specific contexts such as mental illness and cultural differences, or dealing with large organizations, arbitrations, or plea bargaining. Sections VIII and IX concern work with your client and with third parties, and Section X wraps up with strategies to close a deal.